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16 Dec, 2017 23:22

‘EU is killing Europe’: Far-right leaders call for end to ‘disastrous’ union

‘EU is killing Europe’: Far-right leaders call for end to ‘disastrous’ union

The European Union is a “disaster” and a “danger” for Europe that has no place in its future, leaders of far-right European parties said at a gathering in Prague. They also vowed to develop cooperation outside the EU structures.

“Because we love Europe, we accuse the EU of killing Europe,” the leader of the French National Front, Marine Le Pen, told reporters at congress of European right-wing parties in the Czech capital, Prague. She also advocated the establishment of a new sort of union, which she defined as a “Europe of sovereign nations.”

“We are not xenophobes, we are opponents of the European Union,” she said. “I think this is something we have in common, because the European Union is a disastrous organization which is leading our continent to destruction through dilution by drowning it in migrants, by the negation of our respective countries, by the draining of our diversity.”

Her words were echoed by Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch anti-Islam and anti-immigrant Party for Freedom (PVV), who also called the EU an “existential threat” for European nation states.

“My party is convinced that the Netherlands would be better off outside the European Union, and it will be better for our economy, for our security,'' Wilders said. He also once again called for putting an end to mass immigration into Europe and said that the European countries should follow the example of US President Donald Trump on this issue by imposing travel bans to restrict the inflow of migrants and even by building walls.

The delegates also welcomed the fact that the Austrian right-wing Freedom Party (FPO) had just entered the country’s new coalition government. Le Pen particularly called it “very good news for Europe.”

The leaders were attending a congress of the Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom (MENL), a European Parliament group established in 2015, which consists of far-right, far-right and Eurosceptic parties. The congress, held under the slogan “For a Europe of sovereign nations,” was organized by the Czech populist Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD), which itself is not a member of MENL.

The SPD leader, a Czech businessman of Japanese descent, Tomio Okamura, also denounced the EU model as “dysfunctional” and called for reform. Apart from Le Pen and Wilders, the meeting was also attended by far-right politicians from Belgium, the UK and Poland, as well as by members of the Austrian FPO and Italy’s Northern League parties.

The congress was held as the far-right are gaining in popularity across Europe due to growing anti-immigrant sentiments. On Friday, the FPO entered Austria’s new government in a coalition with the conservatives, following its resounding success in the recent parliamentary elections in October.

Earlier, another populist party known for its extremely hardline stance on immigration and Islam, Alternative for Germany (AfD), enjoyed what it described as a historic success in federal parliamentary elections.

In late October, anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic parties also led the parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic. Okamura’s SPD became the fourth largest political force in the parliament as it gained slightly more than 10 percent of the vote.

In the French presidential elections in spring 2017, Marine le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front party, made it into the run-off, beating candidates from such major establishment parties as the Republicans and the Socialists. And in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' ultra-nationalist Party of Freedom came second in this year’s parliamentary elections.

The opposition to the far-right remains nonetheless significant. The Czech police had to tighten security measures around the congress venue, as hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Prague against the congress, according to Radio Praha. Police also took additional security measures to protect Wilders, who has faced death threats over his radical anti-Islam remarks.